233 of 251 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2000
The transfer of OUT OF AFRICA is gorgeous on this newly released DVD. The African sun is bright and the detail is crisp -- very important since the scenery is practically a third character in this Oscar-winning "Best Picture" from 1985.
I really enjoyed "Song of Africa", the documentary created for this DVD release. Not mentioned in the DVD's technical specs, this documentary features several cut scenes not included in the film (except in a network television showing). Example: the subplot of the servant boy with the bad leg whom Karen Blixen heals. There are a few Redford-Streep scenes there, too, which ended up on the cutting room floor (a last dance among Karen Blixen's packed-up home; a made-up story on safari.)
Also, the documentary features incredibly funny and entertaining tales told by Meryl Streep. She is a great mimic -- listen to the sound effects that woman can make! At times hilarious and reflective, she shares stories about the making of the film (the story of a tethered lion she was supposed to whip is particularly funny). Conspicuously absent (just like in THE WAY WE WERE DVD) is Mr. Redford's point of view.
Also interesting is screenwriter Kurt Luedtke's tales of the script. It is fascinating to learn about the genesis of classic moments. Wait til you hear how he came up with the idea of Streep getting her hair washed by Redford. (Then listen to Streep's hilarious story of the Hippos in the river!) Also revealing is composer John Barry's interview. His scoring of Blixen's desert march is interesting -- music can really shape a scene!
OUT OF AFRICA is one of my favorite films. The widescreen version on this DVD is a great presentation! Definitely one for your collection! Thanks, Universal and Sydney Pollack for putting together a great package.
115 of 127 people found the following review helpful
"Out of Africa" stands out as one of the most spectacular movies ever made. At the 1985 Academy Awards this movie won seven Oscars including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Picture. It deserved all seven!
It is filled with romance, scenery, real-life struggles and the inevitability of fate. It is a journey into Africa and into love. The escape is in the hand of fate. This movie presents Africa as a paradise. The natural environment is harsh, yet unspoiled in this movie.
This is based on the true story of Danish writer Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) who left Denmark to marry German Klaus Maria Brandauer/Baron Bror Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and start a dairy in Kenya.
Some women do enjoy the security of a man looking after them, however Karen is different. She seems to desire companionship and offers her fortune in exchange for marriage. Her husband changes his mind about the dairy and instead they use her money on a risky venture to grow coffee. This is not a marriage based on an intense romance, in fact, Karen is marrying her lover's brother.
Soon after they arrive in Africa, it becomes apparent this is not a satisfying marriage for Karen. Not only is her husband unfaithful to her, he gives her syphilis. Disease is not the only threat, she also has to fight floods and fire. There are lions which apparently try to attack Karen and Denys although I thought that was pretty unlikely in the situation.
I didn't like the "hunter" aspects or when the two lions are killed, but if you watch at the end, I think even the lions forgive the hunter. When I've seen lions during the day they were normally napping in the shade. Apparently they had trouble getting the lions to act aggressive and there is information on the DVD explaining these details.
Karen finds acceptance in big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) who loves her ability to tell stories. He starts the stories and she completes them. I think he is impressed by her confidence and creativity. He sees who she really is. Her husband is obviously blind to this beautiful goddess he has taken to Africa.
She in turn is delighted by this interest and slowly allows him into her world. While Denys and Karen are a perfect match and as close to soul mates as possible, Denys is unsure of commitment and explains how a piece of paper won't make him love her more. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford have chemistry, chemistry and more chemistry in this movie! They mostly share a few kisses, yet their relationship is on such a deep level, I think it could survive if they just told each other stories.
What Karen seems to truly desire is a man who will sacrifice to be with her. She wants to be of value. Denys tells Karen she has confused "want" and "need." This is an excellent portrayal of the gender differences. Man wants to be free to come and go and woman wants security, love and commitment. She wants to be treated with respect.
Denys "wants" Karen and Karen seems to "need" Denys. The question is not whether he will realize this in time before he loses her, but whether or not fate will turn their lives into a tragedy or allow them to form a true relationship. As Karen says:
"When the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers."
Karen seems the surrender to her fate and is able to experience a brief moment of ecstasy in her life even though she is wounded from the experience.
When you view this movie, there are various elements which hint at the ending, yet I didn't recognize them until viewing this the second time. This is a movie I watch every few years because I too once lived on a farm in Africa. It was not quite this romantic because I was still a child. This movie makes me terribly homesick because once we left Africa, we never went back. Africa seems a moment in time, maybe everyone should live there once. When I watch this movie I need a big box of tissues!
The best moment in the movie is when Farah asks Karen to build a very big fire so he will know where to find her. It is a moment so beautiful and poetic, I've not seen anything like it in any other movie. I appreciated this movie more now that I'm in my 30s and married than before when I was single and had just returned from Africa myself. This movie is contemplative and deals with complex issues.
Spectacular Scenery and Emotionally Satisfying.
~The Rebecca Review
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2000
The most honored movie of 1985, "Out of Africa" is indeed an outstanding cinematic achievement. It works on every level imaginable: as an historical epic; as an adventure; as a biography; as a poignant romance. The film's success is partly attributable to many fine elements which blend together seamlessly: its script, direction, sets, cinematography, performances, and editing are each masterful accomplishments.
These individual virtues are given synergy by two outstanding achievements that together form the movie's backbone and provide its true heart and soul. One is the sensitive performance of the radiant Meryl Streep, who dominates both in terms of screen time and charisma; the other is the exquisite, majestic score by John Barry. Actor and composer complement each other perfectly. The famous flying sequence in which his music underscores the emotions flashing across her face is a superb example of cinema at its best: it invites the viewer's spirit to soar.
Happily, the DVD presentation of this gem is a treasure in itself. The video transfer is sharp and clear, with a fairly subtle transition between the dual-layers of the disc, and the sound is well-balanced and crisp, a definite improvement over the LaserDisc and VHS releases. There are fantastic extras offered on the DVD, including the advance theatrical trailer and a director's audio commentary. I especially enjoyed the documentary on the making of the film, which featured recent interviews with Streep, Barry, and director Sydney Pollack, intercut with behind-the-scenes footage taken during filming. All-in-all, this is a marvelous edition of a much-beloved film, and a worthy addition to your DVD library.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2012
Previous BluRay transfers of Out of Africa were a real disappointment... and in fact were noticeably worse than the original DVD. However the Universal 100th Anniversary Collector's Series is about as good a transfer as could have been hoped for. Using modern digital techniques, they were even able to correct some technical problems in the original film. The only imperfections here are the result of uncorrectable imperfections in the original master film, but these are few and easy to forgive when considering the overall quality of the film itself and this new BluRay transfer. Highly recommended.
Since there are at least two "Anniversary Editions" out there, use caution when buying:
- 25th Anniversary Edition: AVOID
- Universal 100th Anniversary Collector's Series: GREAT
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2004
He often tries to distill his movies' themes into a single word, Sydney Pollack explains on "Out of Africa"'s DVD. Here, that word is "Possession:" The possessiveness of the colonialists trying to make Africa theirs; to rule her with their law, settle on the local tribes' land, dress their African servants in European outfits (complete with a house boy's white gloves), import prized belongings like crystal to maintain the comforts of European civilization, and teach African children to read, to remove their "ignorance." And the possessiveness of human relationships; the claim of exclusivity arising from a wedding license, the encroachment on personal freedom resulting if such a claim is raised by even one partner - regardless whether based on a legal document - and the implications of desire, jealousy, want and need.
As such, the movie's story of Danish writer Karen Blixen's (Isak Dinesen's) experience in Kenya is inextricably intertwined with her love for free-spirited hunter/adventurer Denys Finch Hatton. Just as she spends years trying to wrangle coffee beans from ground patently unfit for their plantation and create a dam where water that, her servants tell her, "lives in Mombassa" needs to flow freely, only to see her efforts fail at last, so also her romance with Finch Hatton blossoms only as long as she is still (pro forma) married, and thus cannot fully claim him. As soon as the basis of their relationship changes, Finch Hatton withdraws - and is killed in a plane crash shortly thereafter, his death thus cementing a development already underway with terrible finality. In her eulogy Karen asks God to take back his soul with its freedom intact: "He was not ours - he was not mine." Yet, both Kenya and Finch Hatton leave such a mark on her that, forced to return to Denmark, she literally writes them back into her life; again becoming the "mental traveler" she had been before first setting foot on African soil, using her exceptional storytelling powers to resurrect the world and the man she lost, and be united with them in spirit where a more tenable union is no longer possible.
While "Out of Africa" is an adaptation of Blixen's like-named ode to Kenya, several of her other works also informed the screenplay; as did Judith Thurman's Blixen biography. And it's this combination which in screenwriter Carl Luedtke' and director Sydney Pollack's hands turns into gold where prior attempts have failed; because Blixen's book is primarily, as Pollack explains, "a pastorale, a beautifully formed memoir [relying] on her prose style, her sense of poetry and her ability to discover large truths in very small ... details" but lacking "much narrative drive" and thus, "difficult to translate to film." In addition, Blixen was largely silent about her relationship with Finch Hatton, which however was an essential element of the story, thus dooming any attempt to produce a movie without extensive prior research into this area.
Meryl Streep was not Sydney Pollack's first choice for the role of Karen, for which luminaries including Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn had previously been considered. Looking back in the DVD's documentary, Streep and Pollack recount how his change of mind came about (and ladies, I just know her version will make you laugh out loud). But while unfortunately neither her Oscar- nor her Golden-Globe-nomination turned into one of the movie's multiple awards (on Oscar night alone, Best Movie, Best Director and Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Music and Sound), she was indeed the perfect choice. Few contemporary actresses have her range of talent and sensitivity; and listening to tapes of Blixen reading her own works allowed her not only to develop a Danish accent but to become the story's narrative voice in the completest sense, from Blixen's persona to her perceptions and penmanship.
Much has been made of the fact that as Finch Hatton no British actor was cast but Robert Redford, with whom Pollack had previously collaborated in five successful movies, including the mid-1970s' "The Way We Were" and "Three Days of the Condor." But as Pollack points out, Finch Hatton, although a real enough person in Karen Blixen's life, in the movie's context stands for the universal type of the charming, ever-unpossessable, mysterious male; and there simply is no living actor whose image matches that type as closely as Redford's. Indeed, in this respect his character in "Out of Africa" epitomizes his "Redfordness" more intensely than *any* of his other roles. Moreover, all references to Finch Hatton's nationality are deleted here; so this isn't Robert Redford trying to portray a member of the English upper class, this is Redford portraying Redford (or at least, his public image) - and therefore, it is only proper that he didn't adopt a British accent, either.
Praise for this movie wouldn't be complete without mentioning the splendid, Golden-Globe-winning performance of Klaus-Maria Brandauer, one of today's best German-speaking actors, in the role of Karen's philandering husband Bror. (And if you think he's duplicitous here, rent such gems as "Mephisto" and "Hanussen" - or, for that matter, "James Bond: Never Say Never Again" - and you'll see what creepy and demonic really is when it's grown up). And of course, "Out of Africa" wouldn't be what it is without its superb African cast members; particularly Malick Bowens as Karen's faithful major domus Farah and Joseph Thiaka in his only known screen appearance as Kamante, Karen's indomitable cook. Several fine British actors complete the cast, providing enough British colonial feel even for those quibbling with Redford's casting; to name but a few, Michael Kitchen as Finch Hatton's friend Berkeley Cole, Michael Gough as Lord "Dee" Delamere and Suzanna Hamilton as Felicity (whose character is based on Blixen's friend and rival for Finch Hatton's attentions, Beryl Markham).
In all, "Out of Africa" is a grand, lavishly produced tribute to Africa, nature, freedom, adventure and love: Karen Blixen's "Song of Africa" brought to the big screen - and one of the profoundest love stories ever written by life itself.
Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass
Isak Dinesen:The Life of Karen Blixen, Storyteller
West with the Night
The Flame Trees of Thika
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Green Hills of Africa (Scribner Classics)
Petals of Blood
Things Fall Apart: A Novel
The Way We Were (Special Edition)
The Bridges of Madison County (Deluxe Widescreen Edition)
40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2010
This review pertains to the newly released Bluray version.
I read the online reviews of this BR release, and all reviewers concurred: the image quality on this release is poor. I love the movie, so I bought it anyway. My thinking was, it's bluray, it's got to be better than standard DVD. It is not. WAAAY NOT! Rent it before you buy it. See for yourself. It has to rank as the worst Bluray video transfer I have seeen to date. My display device is a Samsung LN55A950; my DVD player is a Sony PS3. My connection is HDMI. My Hidef video library is approximately 100 titles, with standard DVD at about 300 titles. I am a discriminating videophile. If image quality is important to you, do not buy this title. To all Universal movie execs, you fooled me on this one, shame on me. I won't be fooled again. Next time, my $ will stay in my pocket untill I see what the reviewers say.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Film: ***** | Blu-Ray: ** What a travesty! "Out Of Africa" is such a beautiful film, in so many ways. The Blu-Ray release of "Out Of Africa" has been eagerly awaited by fans of the film, who have looked forward to enjoying it anew in high definition. Now, unfortunately, it has arrived on one of the detested Universal Studios "flipper" discs (DVD on one side, Blu-Ray on the other, no label art). The results could not be more disappointing.
The image is cleaner, sharper and "better" than the past DVD versions. But that is due entirely to the vastly better bandwidth, 1080p resolution and improved codecs used for Blu-Ray. There is unfortunately excessive edge sharpening, and overwhelming contrast boost. In fact, the over intense contrast levels accentuate the excessive sharpening, calling attention to ringing and halo effects. Surface detail and skin tones frequently have a smeared and over DNRed quality.
The only other major film that has proved as disappointing on Blu-Ray, and for the same reasons (too much sharpening, too much DNR, too much contrast boost), is the much vilified release of "Gladiator". This has led to a rumored re-release and remasterring of "Gladiator". We can only hope that Universal will wake up and do the same with "Out Of Africa".
Universal ought to be ashamed of themselves for not taking more care with the Blu-Ray release of such a major catalog title. It really needed to be remastered for Blu-Ray. But if they were going to use the old transfer then someone should have at least done some adjustments. As it is, it looks like they just pulled the file off the shelf and shoved it out the door, and in a plain case with cheesy looking artwork, no booklet, etc. Shame on you Universal!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2000
Never have I viewed a movie that put all the elements together so winningly: the writing, the acting, the directing, the scoring. It is the movie I make a point to view once or twice a year. Robert Redford has never reached me as an actor - until now. How smart of him to not attempt to play Brittish. Restrained and understated, he coaxed the character to him rather than chased hopelessly after it. I think he played this role as he would have directed another actor to play it - he is far more talented as a director than an actor. Meryl Streep is consistently fine in her work, and here she surpasses her history as such and her achievements since. This film is every bit the equal (and more) of the luminescent "Firelight."ÿ
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This is undoubtedly one of the finest movies made over the last twenty years or so. Both Meryl Streep and Robert Redford are absolutely terrific in playing star-crossed lovers who are also intellectual soul mates in what has to be one of the greatest and yet saddest of all movie love affairs. This is a dramatization culled from the memoirs written by Isak Dinesen about her fateful decision to leave her comfortable but boring life in Scandinavia behind in favor of a much more dangerous and adventurous try at a new life as a married woman in Africa. Blowing her inheritance trying to support her philandering new husband's ill-advised business ventures, she falls in love with the land, the people, and the times. Indeed, out of Africa comes the experience of a young lifetime.
In fact, the topography of Africa provides the perfect background and the most splendid of opportunities for her to live her life on her own terms, out of the long and suffocating shadow of family and social convention. And the journey taken by Karen Blixen is a long, joyous, and eventful one, a trip that literally takes her breath away with its rich, varied, and enriching experiences. Yet all this adventure has its cost in pain and suffering, and her growth into a woman of substance who eventually finds her way into a dreamy intellectual played so well by Redford also fates her to become a woman bereft of that that means most to her; her lover, her farm, and her place in Africa itself.
This is a lovely film, one that capitalizes by using the dramatic and primitive backdrop of wild Africa in painting a period piece that is unparalleled in its graphic portrayal of life on the very edges of civilization in an epochal time of Africa's evolution to modernity. The cinematography alone is worth the price of the DVD, for anyone who loves nature will recognize Redford's steady hand in influencing the way the fragile yet exquisite sub-Saharan environment is depicted. I have seen the movie a number of times, and each time come away with a renewed sense of how fragile and wondrous the ecology of this part of Africa is. This is a wonderful movie I can heartily recommend. Enjoy
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 1999
Having seen this film countless times, each time appreciating it more, I consider it to be one of the top two ever made, second only to Lawrence of Arabia.It is Meryl Streep's film, and she should have had first billing -- she does a brilliant job of bringing Karen Blixen to life. Klaus Maria Brandauer is excellent as the unfaithful husband, although Bror Blixen was reported to be more charming than Brandauer portrayed. As lovers go, Robert Redford is a perfect woman's fantasy, and the chemistry between Redford and Streep is unequaled but for Casablanca (Bergman and Bogart). The only disappointment for me is that Blixen/Dinesen's story of events is Hollywoodized -- her book, Out of Africa, tells much more of the story and it is certainly accurate in comparison. The widescreen version is great -- the viewing ratio makes for only a slight black letterboxing, hardly noticeable, and the digital enhancement of the picture and sound makes for a superb quality. Great viewing.